If you have been following my Briefcase Op/Eds or the Open and Obvious blog, you may recall that in March of 2017 I penned an installment entitled MY OCBA IS ALREADY GREAT!. If you choose, you can find that on the OCBA Briefcase archive or on the Open and Obvious blog site at https://openobvious.wordpress.com/. The reason for this reference is that County Bar President David Cheek has asked your County Bar Board two questions at the recent board meeting. The first is why do you belong to the OCBA and the second is why do others not belong to the OCBA. These are great questions for every member. Back in March I tried to point out in a succinct manner all the great benefits of OCBA membership including, but not limited to, mentoring, social interaction with Judges and other lawyers giving back to the profession, proximity card courthouse access, CLE and being part of a social justice and community service initiative of the County Bar. Apparently, this article did little to motivate an increase in membership. My pen/keyboard now meet reality and it begs the question, WHY NOT?
I realize that the likelihood of a non-member reading publication this is slim, so I am relying on you members to circulate the Briefcase to non-member lawyers you know. Better yet, ask them why they do not belong to the OCBA and let the OCBA know what we can do to increase membership in your professional association. First off, I am not listening to any complaints that County Bar dues are too expensive. The Oklahoma County Bar dues rate has not been increased in forever and is probably the cheapest bar membership you will ever have, certainly much cheaper than your gym membership that if you are like me you do not use. Save your email or phone call if that is your beef.
Moving on, the demographics of non-membership are hard to pin down. Many young lawyers straight out of law school and passing the bar exam get involved in Young Lawyer’s Committees of our Bar and others. These always seem to be a draw as these groups are both social and usually have a community service/social justice return involved. Another big hint, new admittee membership is free. From there, the Young Lawyers jump into regular Bar service mostly because they are forced out by age. Then the picture gets murky.
Interest in belonging seems to wane across all age groups of attorneys. I have already listed some really good reasons and benefits of OCBA membership. Tell your law partners, colleagues and other attorneys that you know about the OCBA. Encourage others to join. Take an active part in OCBA events, CLEs and social gatherings. Enhance your practice and work life satisfaction through OCBA membership. Inform your board of some tasks or perks to consider for the future mix of OCBA membership benefits. Share your Briefcase or blog or the Open and Obvious blog with others. It is not just about dues, it is about professionalism. I look forward to hearing from you, but while I am waiting, consider the following.
This discussion lead me to the top 10 Why Nots of October 2017 (most difficult to not be political or cynical here):
1. Why Not have fast access to the courthouse with a County Bar proximity card
2. Why Not socialize with other lawyers at the OCBA golf tournament, chili cook off, or Holiday Reception
3. Why Not meet Judges at the Beach and Bar Conference
4. Why Not get inexpensive content filled CLE at the OCBA
5. Why Not get involved in community service through any of the OCBA projects
6. Why Not join and encourage all Oklahoma County lawyers to join your OCBA
7. Why Not do something nice for a stranger
8. Why Not treat each other civilly in all things
9. Why Not be the best you can be; and
10. Why not the Brodie forever!
Byline: Michael W. Brewer is an attorney, founder, and partner of Hiltgen & Brewer, PC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. To contact Mike, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (405) 605-9000 or tweet him at @attymikeb. For more information, please visit http://www.hbokc.law.